There is a cancer vaccine that many have not taken advantage of.
In May 2007 a medical study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that touted the effectiveness of a vaccine called Gardasil.
Shortly after these studies, commercials for the vaccine popped up on TV screens across the nation saying that Gardasil could was not only effective in preventing contraction of the sexually transmitted disease the human papillomavirus, but that the vaccine had proven itself in protecting vaccinated individuals from cancer.
Though, many state legislatures across the country are pushing to make the vaccination mandatory for all sixth grade girls in public schools, it currently is administered to minors only through parental consent.
The gardasil Web site said the vaccine is recommended for any women ages 12-24 and is given as three injections over a 6-month period.
Women do not have to be sexually active to be vaccinated, but they will be protected when that time comes, the site said.
"HPV is especially threatening in that it is one of the few STDs that condoms do not protect against," said female advocate Ann Friedman in the Web Publication "The American Prospect."
She said this fact is why the Gardasil vaccine must be promoted: "Many conservative religious groups feel the vaccine is promoting promiscuity ... Research shows that fear of an STD is not a major motivation for abstinence (among teens and young adults)."
Salem-based physician Dr. Rebecca Phillips, who is also an active member of the Salem Church of Christ, said she supports the vaccine. "Even if a person is abstinent until marriage, there's no guarantee that their spouse didn't have prior sexual partners. Why not protect yourself as best as you can?"
According to the study Gardasil is designed to prevent four types of HPV: types 6, 11, 16 and 18. Prevention of these forms of HPV can directly prevent vaccinated women from cervical cancer, said the published report.
HPV-16 and HPV-18 are responsible for causing 70 percent of cervical cancers among women. So, by creating this vaccine, not only is medical science preventing the spread of HPV, it is also eliminating over 70 percent of occurrences of a form of cancer.
According to Gardasil's Web site, there are approximately six million new cases of HPV reported in the United States every year. "What's worse, many people who may have HPV may not show signs or symptoms." These go unreported and allow for the virus to be passed without that individual knowing.
"The (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that more than 20 million Americans have HPV strains that are linked to cervical cancer. Cervical Cancer is the second biggest cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide and kills 240,000 women every year," said Dr. Kevin Ault of Emory University School of Medicine, co-author of the NEJM study. "But progress is being made. The goal of the study was to see if we could prevent pre-cancerous cases and we were 98 percent effective."
For more information on Gardasil and its benefits go online to www.gardasil.com or ask your local healthcare provider.